Termites are a problem from coast to coast and that includes California. Much of the state of California is subject to potential damage from termites, from warm and sunny Los Angeles to cooler climates in the North. The warm, humid climate in some areas of California and the dry conditions elsewhere appeal to various kinds of termite species.
Living in ignorance is no way to fight back against termite damage, so it’s important for homeowners throughout the state to understand what termites are, where they can be found, and how to look for signs of damage.
What Are Termites?
Termites are insects that feed on cellulose, a common component in wood. While rather innocuous looking, these bugs can be devastating for homeowners. By feeding on wood siding, walls, flooring, foundation elements, and furniture, termites can do costly and extensive damage to homes. Termites cause an estimated five billion dollars in damages in the United States on an annual basis.
Several different kinds of termites exist within each colony. Worker termites make up the majority of termites in a swarm and are wingless with soft bodies. They generally forage for food and maintain colony structure. Soldier termites are generally larger and protect the colony from predators, while reproducers are winged and handle procreation using the queen’s eggs. The queen termite is the largest insect in a colony; her role is to lay thousands of eggs to grow the colony.
There are multiple different varieties of termite, each with its own unique characteristics. Not all termites are active in all climates and the signs of termite damage can vary from one species to another.
Termite Species in California
A large state, California covers a vast array of climates from top to bottom. As such, numerous species of termite are active throughout California.
Formosan Subterranean Termites
These termites call warm climates home, making them prevalent in Southern California. Often nicknamed “super termites”, this is one of the most dangerous termite species due to its underground presence and large swarm size. Formosan subterranean termites can cause substantial structural damage in as little as three months due to the size of the average colony. They are most likely to spread during the spring and after heavy rainfall, and require contact with soil to live. Subterranean termites penetrate structures through weaknesses beneath the surface, out of sight. These termites can consume as much as thirteen ounces of wood per day. Unlike other varieties, they are also capable of chewing through materials like plastic and metal.
Preventing Formosan subterranean termites requires minimizing moisture in the home and preventing water buildup around a home’s foundation.
Drywood termites are most often found in coastal regions. As the name implies, these termites do not require moisture to live; they are common in drier wood. These termites are larger and slower than their subterranean counterparts. They are most active in the fall, primarily in September and October. One of the most obvious signs of drywood termite damage is piles of pellets outside of pinprick holes. Homeowners with cedar furniture or paneling can rest easy – this wood is deadly to drywood termites.
Using pressure-treated wood or wood treated with chemicals and sealing foundation cracks are among the best ways to prevent drywood termite damage.
Pacific Dampwood Termites
Pacific dampwood termites are most commonly found in areas at least 6,000 feet above sea level regardless of climate. They thrive in moisture and are most active in late summer and early fall. This variety of termite is the largest physically of California’s termite population and can do the most significant damage. They don’t need soil to live like subterranean termites but instead require moist wood. These termites are the hardest to identify as the damage they cause appears similar to moisture loss. This allows them to cause extensive issues long before obvious signs occur.
To prevent Pacific dampwood termites, homeowners should fix any damaged pipes or irrigation systems as soon as possible, keep wood away from a home’s foundation, keep planter boxes away from a home’s walls, and keep the areas around a home free from piled soil.
Treating California Termites
If you see signs of termite damage in your home, from potentially damaged woods to termite wings or droppings, getting help immediately is essential. Most termite infestations are no match for store-bought products or DIY elimination attempts; professional treatment is essential to preventing further damage. Consultations with exterminators are often free or low-cost and can help you come up with a targeted plan to keep termites at bay.
California, for all its benefits as a place of residence, isn’t immune to the potential pain of termites. By learning more about the kinds of termites found in California, common signs of trouble, and how to handle a presence on your property, you can keep your California home safe and secure.
Dealing with termites is no walk in the park. If you believe you have termites in or around your home, Request a free termite inspection online, call us at 888-945-2847 or visit our contact page. All of our termite inspections are no obligation and 100% free!